At CT3, we’re publishing a series of blogs to address the COVID crisis and offer support for our community and partners. We also have the opportunity and feel the moral necessity to create a series of blogs on behalf of our community and partners about a different, ongoing crisis. The crisis we are addressing today is the crisis of racist violence that continues to kill African Americans at alarming rates. Each year since 2013, there have been roughly 1,100 police killings of African Americans. The magnitude of this crisis is overwhelming. Police shootings are the leading cause of death for American men ages 25-29, and for Black men, the risk of being killed by a police officer is 2.5 times higher, resulting in entire Black communities suffering recurring trauma after each unjustified homicide by the police.
The most recent violence – the attempted murder of Christian Cooper by a white woman, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by racists, and the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police – have again triggered PTSD-like trauma in the African American community.
After every act of violence against the Black community, Black people report feeling hurt and experiencing trauma reactions like having thoughts or images that intrude in their daily lives, sleeplessness, hyperactivity or having a hard time concentrating, and experiencing numbness or avoidance of people and places that remind them of the ongoing events (Carter, 2007). This rings true for my African American teammates at CT3.
We offer this blog and an upcoming series of blogs on this crisis as a way to cope and a platform for our community to join in the conversation about solutions. At CT3, our African American colleagues were brave enough to speak up and demand a space to be seen in their trauma, grief, and anger. Their pain runs deep. We share those feelings.
- because Black people have always been disproportionately impacted. Today – disproportionately killed by the pandemic, impacted by the economic downturn, and brutalized by the police.
- for every Black man and woman who has been murdered by racists and people who saw less value in their lives.
- for Black people who have to live in hyper-vigilance when they go jogging, drive, and simply show up in public.
- for parents, sons, and daughters, who watch these murders and have to reconcile the hypocrisy of a police system that is meant to keep them safe, yet is one of the biggest threats to their lives, and the fear this creates.
- for educators who serve Black and brown youth and are unclear how to support their students and their families.
In short, with every death or act of racist violence, we mourn the loss of life, opportunity, and hope for our brothers and sisters all over again. And we are tired.
Many of the schools we serve and our CT3 partners reflect the African American community, and we feel it is essential in this post to acknowledge the trauma and grief they might be experiencing as well.
While there is an unmet need for educational interventions to help youth critique and cope with the persistence of violence against Black communities (which we hope to address in future blogs in this series), today we publicly acknowledge black lives and the immensity of this crisis, while offering these ways to support your community to do the same.
- Make space for your Black colleagues to share their emotions about the videos of murders that happen to black and brown people on a daily basis.
- Push white colleagues to express their feelings and opinions in support of black communities. White silence is perilous in these moments when Black people need allies and advocates, because white people have the privilege to speak and be heard in spaces where black voices often don’t reach.
- Study what it means to be an anti-racist and work to embody this mindset as a team. Ibram Kendi has a book and a short video of simple steps on this process here.
- Offer tools to support your work community with the trauma of seeing their community terrorized by police brutality. The Association of Black Psychologists have offered these guidelines for African Americans experiencing cultural trauma from coverage of racial tension in the media and online.
- Explore resources that acknowledge this crisis without inducing more trauma. Teaching Tolerance lists three here.
In closing, I believe it is important to note that I am white woman at CT3, and I can’t fully understand the pain that I hear about from my Black colleagues. I also can’t fully comprehend the fear that my Black male colleagues may feel in light of these ongoing events. What I do know is that this is not a “Black” problem. It is incumbent upon all of us to continually work towards making our community safe for people of color. That is why, as an aspiring ally and warrior in this fight, I felt the need to put my pen to paper to address the heartache (which I share) of my Black colleagues whom I respect and love.
We invite you to share your experience and ways you are coping with this crisis. Additionally, we seek your input as we plan a series of posts to respond with care and ideas for our community of educators. What do you want us to address in this series? Please leave a comment below.
Carter, R. T. (2007). Racism and psychological and emotional injury: Recognizing and assessing race-based traumatic stress. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(1), 13-105.
Leah Pearson, Associate, CT3
Check out CT3 Education programs such as No-Nonsense Nurturer, Real Time Teacher Coaching, and Real Time Leadership Coaching to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, and building relationships with students and their families, and properly addressing important issues in the classroom and school.